Over 100 children not returning due to concerns over Covid-19
Number of children being schooled at home triples
Children in Hammersmith and Fulham are not going back to school ever again due to Covid anxiety.
The borough is seeing record high levels of home-schooling as families are frightened to send their children back to school.
Three times as many children are being home-schooled in the borough compared to before the pandemic, says the council’s education officer.
There are now 190 children being home-schooled in the borough compared to 69 before we first went into lockdown.
Council education officer Elizabeth Spearman, in charge of school admissions, explained fewer children are returning to school at the Hammersmith and Fulham education committee on 16 November.
She said, “There is a fear of sending children into school and their children bringing home Covid.
“The other thing has been families having to home educate through no fault of their own and have actually quite enjoyed it and have decided to once the schools reopened again.
“We don’t want our schools to be devoid of children. We have got to walk this tight rope.”
Anyone in the borough is allowed to home-school their children and is supported by the council in doing so.
But the home-schooling community likes to keep its distance from education officers and council staff often have to hand-deliver messages to family’s doors.
Covid lockdowns meant school buildings were closed to most pupils from the end of March to September last year.
Nationally more than 40,000 pupils were formally taken out of school in the UK between September 2020 and April 2021, compared with an average of 23,000 over the previous two years – BBC research shows.
Before the half-term break, 158 children missed school in Hammersmith and Fulham due to Covid related reasons on 21 October – three times as many at the start of the half term.
There were 58 school absences related to Covid at the beginning of the Autumn term on 9 September.
Jacob Phillips - Local Democracy Reporter